When my nearly 13 year relationship crumbled as I got sober in 2009, my heart and my brain conspired to tell me a series of convincing but damaging lies. “You weren’t meant to be in love” they whispered. “No gay man in his right mind is going to want a sober, HIV positive partner” they told me. And of course my favorite lie was the one that played on repeat whenever I felt utterly alone, “You won’t ever know real love.” Naturally, it was all bullshit and thankfully I stopped believing it.
When I first crawled into the AA meetings in Santa Monica, I would see handsome, single, interesting, non-trainwreck gay men and think “Wow. They do exist.” This thought was usually followed by a head shake that would remind me that I was in no condition whatsoever to date anyone. Ever. Or for at least awhile. Besides, who would date me? The recently single, barely sober, life in shambles me was not exactly a candidate for The Bachelor or anything. My heart was smashed open so to protect itself, it told me little lies and truths to protect me. I was not open to the idea of love nor did I think I would ever have anything to offer anyone else. Nevertheless, little changes happened the longer I stayed sober and my life got bigger, so did my ideas about what I could or could not achieve. Soon my heart started saying things like “Maybe I could write professionally and not go back to waiting tables?”
At almost exactly a year sober that is what happened. I started writing copy for an agency. Other mind-boggling things started to happen too. Mainly, I began to like myself. I mean like really be okay with myself and by myself. I spent a summer meditating, writing and taking care of some chickens. I don’t know if the preceding sentence is a guaranteed recipe for successful self-love but it freaking worked for me. Maybe I’ll open a rehab with writing classes and chicken coops. Or not. The point is those lies were no longer being listened to or even transmitted. There was a new set of programming that repeatedly told me, day and night, that I deserve love. Moreover, that I already had love in my life. I might have been single but there was love coming from people everywhere and I was open and lucky to receive it. At one year, seven months and six days of continuous sobriety, I met the man I’m married to today. He wasn’t who I thought he would be meaning who I thought the guy I would marry would be. He was even better. He’s an artist, he’s hilarious, he’s brilliant and he isn’t nuts. And thank god. This family only has room for one crazy person and I fit the bill nicely.
So the deal is this: I am writing this to tell you the truth even if your heart won’t. You deserve love. You are already loved. Despite what you did or didn’t do while you drank or used drugs somebody loves you and somebody will love you like you never knew was possible. I know this all sounds corny but it’s Valentine’s Day so fucking indulge me. Love isn’t for just pretty people or rich people or sane people (clearly). Love is for people who know they are worthy of it and who give it away without condition and even a lying heart would agree with me on that one.